Call Toll Free: 1-888-478-5060
View Shopping Bag
Like Us on Facebook!
You are here: Home > Learning Center > what is metal clay?
Learning Center - Resources, inspiration and expert advice on metal clay and jewelry making in silver, gold and bronze
What is metal clay?
Metal clay is a jewelry making material that can be used by just about anyone to create jewelry and small decorative objects. Metal clay is made from powdered metal mixed with water and a substance called "methyl cellulose". Methyl cellulose may sound like a nasty chemical, but it's actually made from the cell walls of green plants. It's an organic ingredient used in food additives and is non-allergic, non-toxic and perfectly safe to work with.

Metal clay handles similar to traditional modeling clays, and, when dried, it is transformed into a solid object through a firing process. During firing, the methyl cellulose, typically called "binder", is burned away and the metal particles "sinter" into a solid form. Sintering is the process of making a powdered material (in this case, metal clay) coalesce into a solid mass by heating it to a very high temperature, just below the point of liquefaction.

There are several types of metal clay available: fine silver, silver alloy, gold, gold alloy, copper, bronze and steel. Each type of metal clay has unique firing requirements because each metal has a different melting point.

For the beginner, fine silver clay is the easiest and quickest way to experience metal clay because there are so many options for firing, including low cost hand held butane torches. All metal clays are optimally fired in a jewelry kiln and some require special firing methods. The overview below will give you the basics on the different types of metal clay and their firing requirements to help you decide which clay to begin your adventures with.
Types of Metal Clay & Firing Requirements
Lump Form
Fine Silver Clay

There are 3 brands of fine silver clay available: PMC, Art Clay Silver and Metal Magic Silver Clay. We offer all 3 brands and all of the available formulations of each. All of these fine silver clays are made from powdered fine silver that is .999 in purity and considered pure silver or "fine" silver.

Fine silver clay is the easiest and fastest of all metal clays to fire. In as little as 2 minutes you can transform dry clay into a pure fine silver object.

Minimum Firing Time: 2 minutes

Firing Options: Torch, gas burner, enameling kiln, jewelry kiln

Slip (or Paste) Form
Silver Alloy Clay

PMC Sterling and PMC PRO are silver metal clays that are made of fine silver, copper and other metals. This type of mixture is called an "alloy" and results in a metal that is far stronger than pure fine silver. Metals are alloyed to enhance or impart characteristics that are lacking in the main metal. Fine silver is a metal that is easily dented and scratched. By adding other metals, an alloy with greater strength is created. PMC Sterling and PMC PRO offers jewelery artists the ability to make thinner, more delicate jewelry that meets any jewelers standard for durability. PMC Sterling is 92.5% silver and a 7.25% proprietary blend of copper and other metals. PMC PRO is 90% silver and a 10% proprietary blend of copper and other metals, making it the strongest, most durable silver metal clay on the market. Both clays are fired inside a fireproof container filled with activated carbon and fired in a kiln. Most pieces can be fired in 1 hour.

Minimum Firing Time: 1 hour

< Firing Options: Carbon Firing (kiln required)

Slip (or Paste) Form
Gold Clay

PMC and Art Clay both offer gold clay products. Gold clays are either pure 24K gold or 22K alloy of fine silver and gold. 22K means there is 22 parts pure gold and 2 parts some other metal. Can be fired with a hand held torch in as little as 2 minutes.

Minimum Firing Time: 2 minutes

Firing Options:Torch, gas burner, enameling kiln, jewelry kiln

Paper Form
Bronze Clay

Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin. Bronze is a very hard metal and is the strongest of all the metal clays available. We offer 3 types of Bronze Clay. BRONZclay and FASTfire BRONZclay by Metal Adventures, Inc. The difference between these two formulations is the firing time required, the shrinkage, and the color of the finished metal. The 3rd type of Bronze Clay we offer is a large range of colored powdered Bronze clays by Hadar Jacobson. Powdered clays are distinctive in that the artist adds water to create the amount of clay wanted or necessary, with the powdered remainder having an extended shelf life.

BRONZclay is fired according to the thickness of the finished piece. The thicker the clay, the slower the firing. The thinner the piece, the faster the firing. This version shrinks about 25% during firing and is a warm bronze color.

Minimum Firing Time: 3 hours, 4 is average

Firing Options: Carbon Firing (kiln required)

FASTfire BRONZclay usually fires at full speed, but in some larger kiln models, the heating is slowed to 1000F/hour. This version shrinks about 20% during firing and is a golden bronze color.

Minimum Firing Time: 2 hours, 3 for extra strength

Firing Options: Carbon Firing (kiln required)

Paper Form
Copper Clay

Copper clay is made of pure copper. We offer two excellent brands of copper clay, COPPRclay by Metal Adventures, Inc and Art Clay Copper which can be fired by torch or in a kiln with or without carbon. COPPRclay must be fired in a kiln in activated carbon. Kiln firing takes about 3 hours.

Minimum Firing Time: 5 minutes

Firing Options: Torch or Carbon Firing (kiln required)